NEW YORK (Billboard) - Atlanta-bred rapper Rocko never
anticipated that his single "Umma Do Me" would be an instant
hit. As a matter of fact, he never meant for the track to be an
official release, let alone his debut.
"'Umma Do Me' was a song I recorded for the streets, and it
took off from there," Rocko, born Rodney Jenkins, says. "I
never meant for it to be a single."
Still, Rocko isn't peeved by its success. "Umma Do Me," off
his Island Urban debut album, "Self Made" (March 18), has been
steadily climbing Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap
Songs charts, where it is No. 28 and No. 17, respectively.
The rapper assures, however, that the track isn't an
accurate reflection of what "Self Made" -- which features
production from Cool and Dre, the Runners, Jazze Pha and DJ
Toomp -- is all about. "This album is colossal. It's much
bigger and crazier than that. It's about real-life situations,"
Rocko got his start in 1999 scouting talent for indie label
Triple A Records. In 2002, he signed rapper Hitman Sammy Sam,
who was soon offered a deal with Universal Records. A year
later, Rocko left his post at the label and launched his own
record company, Rocky Road Records.
He continued scouting talent for Universal, brokering deals
with Young Dro and Dem Franchize Boyz. It wasn't long after
working with the two acts that he started to ponder becoming a
rapper himself. "The decision to go into rapping was initially
cash motivated," he says. "I saw the type of money rappers were
making and I went in trying to get money. But then I really
started to get into it."
In 2003, he released his first mixtape, "NWA (No Wack
Artist)," featuring Juvenile, Turk, Jazze Pha and Bone Crusher,
among others. Last year -- aside from releasing second mixtape
"Swag Season," featuring Jim Jones, Rick Ross, Gotti and Shawty
Lo -- Rocko signed his first deal as a rapper with Universal
via his relationship with now-Island Urban president Jermaine
Dupri. Rocko's girlfriend, R&B singer Monica, introduced the
"A lot of people wanted me to fail, but now those same
people are in trouble," Rocko says. "I am going in and
mastering my craft daily. Now there's no turning back."